Home Contact | Advertising Subscribe Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia
Search Listings
Alberta British Columbia Oregon Washington
Exhibition Previews
Calendar
Gallery Websites
Conservation Corner

SEARCH EDITORIAL
To find gallery listings use search at page top right.


CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Untitled, M.S. Nov 1910

Untitled, M.S. Nov 1910

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 48. The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

I remember it was a Sunday afternoon, about 1964. My dad took my younger brother and me to an old, abandoned farmhouse not far from where we lived in Castlereagh, Northern Ireland. The building had not been occupied for many years. Inside, remnants of past habitation were strewn about and, amid the debris, I found a small unframed oil-on-canvas painting with a large scratch across its surface. I can’t remember why we were there, other than to perform some nostalgic homage to a place that had meaning for my dad. Only later did I discover it had been his boyhood home.

I asked my dad if I could keep the painting, and he said yes. I also asked if he knew who painted it, and he said he didn’t, but he thought it was done by a relative. It was initialled and dated in the lower right, “M.S. Nov 1910.”

When I got home later that afternoon, I took out my oil paints and tried to cover up the scratch with what I thought was the right shade of colour. My attempts were unsuccessful, and the scratch became a noticable slash of viridian green across a modulated sky. I decided to keep the painting anyway, because I liked the imagery: fishermen in two rowboats out on a seemingly calm sea or lake, at dawn or dusk, as evidenced by a beautifully painted rising or setting sun.

On the stretcher at the back of the piece was written, in pencil, what appeared to be a name and address. However, try as I might, I was unable to read these. More than a decade later, about 1977, I had the painting restored by a qualified restorer who did an excellent job. I also had it framed, and hung it on my living room wall.

As a budding amateur art historian, I tried from time to time to research the signature and date and identify the artist. All I had to go on, from my dad, was that the artist was a relative with the initials M.S. and that he or she had painted the piece in 1910.

Over many years, my efforts were in vain. I did discover a relative, my grandfather’s sister Mabel, whose married initials were M.S. However, she was born in 1898, and would have been 12 years old in 1910 – and unmarried, so her initials would still have been M.F.

Fortunately, several members of my family had an active interest in geneology, and I was therefore aware of many ancestors dating back to 1770. Although for a time I lost contact with those instrumental in creating and updating our family tree, I recently reconnected with its makers by accident, on the Internet, and discovered that the tree had been expanded with new information.

And so at last, more than 50 years later, I think I’ve solved the mystery of the identity of the artist. A brief review of the updated family tree suggests that the artist was probably my third cousin, Minnie Somerset, born about 1876.

Ars longa, vita brevis.

Next: The Case of Clarence’s Chateau-Gaillard

 Sun, Nov 8, 2015